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Sully’s Coffee Cup Cafe: ‘the highlight of the day’

Business cards for the Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully, Iowa, don’t list an address. They simply read, “South Side of the Square.”

If you’ve been to Sully, population 821, you know where the square is, and, as the only restaurant in town, you probably know where the Coffee Cup is, too. While a restaurant has occupied the building along Fourth Street for nearly a century, the Coffee Cup as it stands today has been run by Robin and Darin Morvant of Sully since 2004.

T-shirts hanging on the walls boast “Since 1970.” Robin explains that, while the property has changed ownership, the restaurant has retained its original integrity. Since 2004, the Morvants have made some renovations and a few changes to the menu, but haven’t altered anything drastically.

The menu, Robin explained, is chock full of homemade Iowa comfort food that keeps the regulars coming in day after day — some of them multiple times a day, like David Gertsma, Ron Williams and Gilbert Van Wyk.

Gertsma and Van Wyk hail from nearby Lynnville; both are retired farmers. Williams, of Sully, has been a truck driver and is “almost retired,” according to a joking Gertsma.

Like clockwork, they meet around 9 a.m. each day. It’s coffee for Williams and Van Wyk, but “never anything but iced tea,” for Gertsma.

“Well, Gilbert gets here about seven minutes after 9 o’clock. Anything later than that and he’s late,” Gertsma joked. “Some of us are here twice a day; Ron, he’s in here three times a day.”

“We just talk about anything and everything,” Williams said. “Our wives ask us what we hear in here, and you just can’t explain.”

“Sometimes you’ll learn something here about yourself you didn’t know before,” quipped server Tammy Fisher as she refilled a coffee for Van Wyk, who’s been frequenting the Coffee Cup for decades.

“I’ve been coming here pretty near 50 years now,” he laughed. “My dad used to come in here, and I did a few times, too. I must’ve started a bad habit early. When I used to do seed corn, I’d park the truck out front, stop for coffee, and then go deliver.”

Over the course of those 50 years, the restaurant was briefly owned by Van Wyk’s grandfather and uncle, and his wife worked as a salad maker in the kitchen for 10 years. 

“We know just about everybody, but there’s always strangers that come in,” he added.

It’s not just coffee and conversation that the men gather for each day – they come for the food as well.

“I like the triple deuce,” Williams said. “That’s two eggs, two sausages and two pieces of toast.”

“My wife and I are pancake lovers,” Van Wyk added.

Rightfully so, as the Coffee Cup’s pancakes have numerous rave reviews around the web, likely due to the homemade syrup. Among other favorites, explained Robin, are the hot beef sandwich, Dutch lettuce salad, and homemade pies.

Daily pie specials are listed on a whiteboard adjacent to the counter; this particular Thursday morning featured peach, banana cream, coconut cream and cherry. With the combination of home-cooked food, fantastic service and a friendly sea of faces around, the three wouldn’t go anywhere else.

“There’s got to be something good here, because we just keep on coming back,” Williams said.

“You know,” Gertsma added, “it’s kind of the highlight of the day for me.”

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